Patent drafting made easy!

How to Make Patent Drawings

Save Thousands of Dollars and Do It With a Camera and Computer!

Save money: draw it yourself

Create your own patent drawings!

  • make design or utility patent drawings
  • utilize pen and paper, or digital equipment
  • learn official patent drawing guidelines
  • respond to USPTO regarding drawings

Available as part of the Nolo's Inventor's Bundle

  • Product Details
  • This step-by-step guide shows you how to complete a crucial step in the patenting process—creating formal patent drawings that comply with the strict rules of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Plus, it’s packed with insider information and practical advice that will help get your drawings done the right way.

    Whether you're apploying for a utility or design patent, with How to Make Patent Drawings, you can:

    • pick the best approach for your drawings
    • choose (and use) the right tools, from pens to software
    • put together effective and compliant drawings
    • respond to Patent Office objections and actions, and
    • correct rejected drawings.

    The 8th edition is completely updated to reflect recent changes to patent law and the newest advances in technical drawing.


    “Even if you hire a patent attorney, this book is worth reading, as it can help minimize the $200-per-hour consulting time you’ll need with your attorney.” - Entrepreneur Magazine

    “The authors, a patent agent and a patent attorney, illustrate how to create formal patent drawings that comply with the rules of the U.S. Patent Office, a crucial and sometimes expensive step in the patenting process.” - Mechanical Engineering

    Even if you haven’t taken a course in school, you can make your own patent drawings by following these simple examples.”-Jack Lander, The inventor’s Bookshelf,


    Number of Pages
    Included Forms


    • Petition for Submitting Color Photographs or Drawings
    • Submission of Corrected Drawings
  • About the Author
    • David Pressman

      Originally from Philadelphia, San Francisco Patent Attorney David Pressman is a graduate of Penn State University (BSEE) and George Washington University Law School (JD) where he was on the Law Review. He has over 40 years of experience in the patent profession -- as a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent Office, a patent attorney in corporate and private practice, a university instructor, a columnist, and as author of the Patent and Trademark entries to the World Book Encyclopedia. He is an expert on patent filing, prosecution, and licensing and his books have charted the path for over 300,000 inventors. Patent It Yourself is the most highly recommended guide to patenting an invention. Dave is also co-author of How to Make Patent Drawings Yourself (with Jack Lo), Patent Pending In 24 Hours (with Rich Stim), and Patents For Beginners (with Rich Stim).

    • Jack Lo

      Jack Lo is an inventor and a registered patent agent with many years of experience in preparing and prosecuting patent applications, including making formal patent drawings. He is the co-author of How to Make Patent Drawings Yourself.

  • Table of Contents
  • Your Legal Companion for How to Make Patent Drawings

    1. General Introduction to Drawings

    • Different Drawing Views
    • Perspective Foreshortening
    • Drawing With Pen, Ruler, and Instruments
    • Drawing With a Computer
    • Using a Camera
    • Summary

    2. Drawing With Pen, Ruler, and Instruments

    • Necessary Tools and Supplies
    • Basic Drawing Rules and Techniques
    • Tracing Photographs and Objects
    • Drawing From Your Imagination
    • Drawing to Scale
    • Drawing Different View Angles
    • Drawing Graphical Symbols
    • Practice, Practice, Practice

    3. Drawing With a Computer

    • Necessary Equipment and Software
    • Drawing From Scratch With 2D CAD
    • Making Drawings by Tracing Photos
    • Drawing With 3D CAD
    • Drawing Graphical Symbols
    • Retaining Your Drawings
    • Summary

    4. Using a Camera

    • Advantages and Disadvantages
    • Inventions Suited for Photography
    • Photographs Must Show Invention Clearly
    • Equipment
    • Taking Pictures
    • Summary

    5. Patent Drawings in General

    • The Drawing Requirement
    • If No Drawing Is Submitted With a Patent Application
    • Three Types of Patent Drawings
    • Formal and Informal Drawings
    • Engineering Drawings Are Not Suitable

    6. Utility Patent Drawings

    • Amount of Detail Required
    • Types of Views
    • Inventions With Moving Parts
    • Shading
    • Graphical Symbols
    • Multiple Embodiments
    • Line Types and Width

    7. Design Patent Drawings

    • Amount of Detail Required
    • Views Required
    • Drawings Must Show All Features
    • Parts Behind Transparent Surfaces
    • Movable Parts
    • Surface Markings
    • Unclaimed Matter
    • Shading Techniques
    • Representation of Color and Material
    • Line Types
    • Photographs
    • Multiple Embodiments

    8. General Standards

    • Paper, Margins, and Sheet Numbering
    • Black Line, Black-and-White, or Color?
    • Arrangement and Numbering of Figures
    • Reference Numbers
    • Lead Lines
    • Arrows
    • Line Types
    • Character of Lines
    • Descriptive Legends
    • Scale of Drawing
    • Copyright or Mask Work Notice
    • Security Markings
    • Corrections
    • Prohibited Elements
    • Identification Information
    • Drafting Symbols

    9. Responding to Office Actions

    • Objections and Rejections
    • Reading the Statute and Rule Numbers
    • Objection or Rejection Under 35 U.S.C. § 112
    • Objection Under 37 CFR § 1.83(a) for Failure to Show Claimed Feature
    • Objection Under 37 CFR § 1.84(p)(4) for Improper Reference Numbers
    • Objection Under 37 CFR § 1.84(p)(5) for Missing Reference Numbers
    • Notice of Draftsperson’s Patent Drawing Review
    • Do Not Add New Matter
    • Correcting the Drawings
    • Filing Corrected Drawings
    • Summary

    Appendix: Forms

    • Petition for Submitting Color Photographs or Drawings
    • Submission of Corrected Drawings


  • Sample Chapter
  • Chapter 1:
    General Introduction to Drawing

    (Please note that the referenced Illustrations below are not included in this sample chapter. Your purchased copy will include all illustrations.)

    This chapter provides the background information you need to understand the more advanced concepts that are presented in later chapters. Basic drawing principles, including the different types of drawing views and foreshortening (a technique for making realistic views), are presented here. We also provide an overview of several drawing methods, to show you that making patent drawings is probably easier than you may have anticipated.

    Different Drawing Views

    Any physical object can be seen from a great variety of view angles—for example, head‑on, from the side, from the top, and from the back. Of course, a single drawing, also known as a drawing view or a figure, may show an object only from one view angle. Typically, a single figure cannot show all of the important features or parts of an object, because some of them may be on an opposite side that is not visible in the view. Therefore, when you need to clearly explain the structure of an invention in a patent application, several drawing views may be necessary to show the object from different angles.

    Certain view angles have conventional names, so that they can be immediately understood when referred to. Let’s look at the most common of these views.

    Orthogonal Views

    An orthogonal, or right-angle (engineering), view is one in which the viewer’s eyes are centered over a particular side of the object. Put another way, the viewer’s line of sight is perpendicular to such side. A special object—especially created to look different from every side—is shown in perspective at the top of Illustration 1.1 and is shown below the perspective view in all possible orthogonal views, as described here.

    Front Side or Front Elevational View. Shows the front side from a viewpoint centered over the front side.

    Rear Side or Rear Elevational View. Shows the rear side from a viewpoint centered over the rear side.

    Right Side View or Right Elevational View. Shows the right side from a viewpoint centered over the right side.

    Left Side View or Left Elevational View. Shows the left side from a viewpoint centered over the left side.

    Top Side View or Plan View. Shows the top side from a viewpoint centered over the top side.

    Bottom Side View. Shows the bottom side from a viewpoint centered over the bottom side.

    Orthogonal views are relatively difficult to understand because they do not convey a sense of depth, so the shapes of many surfaces appear ambiguous. Despite such a shortcoming, orthogonal views are commonly used in patent drawings because they are relatively simple to make, and are usually already available if the item is being manufactured. If one of the orthogonal views is considered alone, without the benefit of the other views, the true shape of the object cannot be deciphered. Such ambiguity is shown in Illustration 1.2. An object that appears as a rectangle in an orthogonal view may have many possible true shapes. Therefore, if an orthogonal view does not convey the shape of an object clearly enough, it should also be shown in one or more perspective views.

    Perspective Views

    A perspective view is one that shows the three dimensions of an object on a two-dimensional surface; it is not orthogonal to or centered over any side. When the view angle is properly selected, it presents an object as it would be seen in real life by a casual observer. It conveys a good sense of depth, so that it is much easier to understand than orthogonal views. The special object of Illustration 1.1 is shown in typical perspective views in Illustration 1.3, which includes those described below.

    Front Perspective View. Shows the front side somewhat angled away.

    Rear Perspective View. Shows the rear side somewhat angled away.

    Right Perspective View. Shows the right side somewhat angled away.

    Left Perspective View. Shows the left side somewhat angled away.

    Top Perspective View. Shows the top side somewhat angled away.

    Bottom Perspective View. Shows the bottom side somewhat angled away.

    Variations of a Perspective View

    If the two sides of an object are equally visible—for example, the top and front—then it may be called either a top perspective or a front perspective view. The view angle of any particular perspective view may be varied. Using the same special object of Illustration 1.1, some variations on the front perspective views are shown in Illustration 1.4, including those described below.

    Front Perspective View (from above). Shows the front from a higher viewpoint off to one side.

    Front Perspective (from the same level). Shows the front from a viewpoint off to one side, but at the same level. Such a view is almost as ambiguous as the front orthogonal view, so it is not recommended.

    Front Perspective (from below). Shows the front from a lower viewpoint off to one side.

    One particular type of perspective view is the isometric (iso = equal; metric = measurement) view, from which the viewer’s eyes or viewpoint are positioned exactly between three orthogonal views, as illustrated by the simple cube in Illustration 1.5.

    Let’s look at two other types of drawing views.

    Exploded View. The parts of a device can be disassembled and spread apart in space to show otherwise hidden features, as pictured in Illustration 1.6, a water pipe fitting. Exploded views may be orthogonal or perspective. For example, there can be a front exploded view, a side exploded view, and so on.

    Sectional View. Part of an object can be sliced away to show interior structures. Sectional views may also be orthogonal or perspective. For illustration, there can be a front sectional view, a side sectional view, a front perspective sectional view, and so on. The view shown in Illustration 1.7 is a side perspective sectional view of the water pipe fitting of Illustration 1.6.

    Perspective Foreshortening

    In real life, objects in the distance appear smaller than similar objects up close. The same principle also applies to a single, three-dimensional object: Its far end appears smaller than its near end, and its parallel edges appear to converge. The closer you are to the object, the greater the effect appears. To see the effect very clearly, put a long rectangular object, such as a toothpaste box, very close to your eyes. You will notice that its far end appears much smaller than its near end, and that its parallel edges appear to converge.

    The technique of representing such an effect in a drawing is known as foreshortening. It is applied to perspective views to make them more realistic. The next time you go to a museum or look at an art book, compare earlier medieval paintings, which were done without foreshortening (it hadn’t been invented yet!), to the later Renaissance paintings, which were done with foreshortening. You will see that the medieval paintings appear flat and somewhat cartoon-like, whereas Renaissance paintings are much more realistic representations of people and things.

    The degree of foreshortening is inversely proportional to the viewing distance. That is, an object seen from a short distance is drawn with more foreshortening, and an object seen from a greater distance is drawn with less foreshortening. Using the same toothpaste box, you can see that it appears highly foreshortened when it is very close to your eyes and not foreshortened at all when it is far away.

    No Foreshortening Versus Excessive Foreshortening

    Illustration 1.8 shows a square box drawn without foreshortening, and also with different degrees of foreshortening. The box drawn without foreshortening represents its appearance as seen from a great distance. Its parallel edges are drawn as perfectly parallel lines, so this view is also known as a parallel view. Without foreshortening, the box actually appears slightly distorted.

    The middle box, drawn with excessive foreshortening, represents its appearance as seen from an extremely short viewing distance, such as when it is positioned right up against your eyes. Although excessive foreshortening causes the box to appear greatly distorted, it clearly shows how foreshortening is applied: The parallel edges of the box are drawn as converging lines that, if extended, will intersect at points known as “vanishing points.” The vanishing points on the sides lie on the horizon (a horizontal line), and the central vanishing point lies below “ground level.” In the illustration shown, the box is seen from above.

    Realistic Foreshortening

    The bottom box is most realistically illustrated with normal foreshortening, that is, a small degree of foreshortening, which represents the object as seen from a normal viewing distance. The parallel edges are drawn as slightly converging lines. The vanishing points of such slightly converging lines are far off the page, so they are not shown.

    The rule of thumb is that the greater the foreshortening, the closer the vanishing points are positioned, while the lesser the foreshortening, the farther the vanishing points are positioned. A drawing without foreshortening has no vanishing points, because parallel edges are drawn as parallel lines, which do not converge.

    Drawings done with normal foreshortening are the most realistic, but drawings done without foreshortening (parallel views) are perfectly acceptable for patent drawings. Foreshortening is a difficult technique to apply with pen and ruler, but as discussed in Chapter 3, it is extremely easy to do with a computer. You can forgo foreshortening in patent drawings, but you can make much more attractive marketing brochures if you use it.

    Drawing With Pen, Ruler, and Instruments

    There are two methods for making patent drawings: the traditional or old way with pens and rulers; and the modern way, with a computer. A set of basic tools for the traditional method can be assembled relatively inexpensively, and making simple drawings is fairly easy. However, with pens and rulers, there is little room for mistake, because, except for very small marks, it is very difficult to correct misplaced ink lines. Nevertheless, with careful planning of drawing positioning (layout) and great care in laying down ink lines, drawing with pens and rulers is still a viable technique. We don’t know of any professional patent draftspersons who still make ink drawings; all now use computers.

    Necessary Tools

    The necessary tools include pencils for
    preliminary sketches, ink drafting pens for drawing ink lines, rulers for making straight lines, triangles for making angled lines, templates for making certain standard shapes, compasses, curve rules for drawing curves, an optional drafting table, and high-quality ink drawing paper.

    Pen and Ruler Drawing Techniques

    Pens and rulers may be used to make patent drawings in the ways described below.

    Drawing From Scratch. You can draw an object by visualizing in detail what it should look like, carefully sketching that image on paper with a pencil, correcting it until it looks about right, and finally inking in the lines. Drawing from scratch requires some basic drawing skills. If you need to learn such skills, you can do some additional reading as suggested at the beginning of Chapter 2, or you can draw with a computer instead, which eliminates the need for traditional drawing skills.

    Tracing. Tracing is much easier than drawing from scratch. An obvious method is to trace a photograph of an object that you wish to draw, as shown in Illustration 1.9. An actual, three-dimensional object can also be traced by using a device called a camera lucida, available at art supply stores, which projects an image of the object onto a drawing surface. As shown in Illustration 1.10, you may also trace an actual object—again, we use a simple box to illustrate—by positioning a transparent drawing sheet on a transparent sheet of glass or acrylic, looking at the object through the glass, tracing the lines of the object on the drawing sheet, and photocopying the tracing onto a sheet of paper. This technique is discussed in greater detail in Chapter 2. Tracing requires very little skill other than a steady hand.

    Drawing to Scale. You can also draw by scaling—that is, reducing or enlarging—the dimensions of an object to fit on a sheet of paper and draw the lines with exact scale dimensions. For example, if an object has a height of 20 inches and a width of 12 inches, you can reduce those dimensions by 50%, so that you would draw it with a height of 10 inches and a width of 6 inches on paper, as shown in Illustration 1.11. All other dimensions of the object are scaled accordingly for the drawing. One easy way to scale an object is to photograph it and then reduce or enlarge the print using a photocopier. Making a drawing that looks right is easier by drawing to scale than by drawing based on only a mental image.

    The techniques and tools for drawing with pens and rulers are explained in greater detail in Chapter 2.

    Drawing With a Computer

    CAD (computer-aided drafting or design) has been around since the early 1970s. When we refer to CAD (sometimes known as CADD), we’re talking about software programs used by inventors, architects, and other design professionals to visualize inventions, products, tools, machinery, and other devices. CAD programs provide a way of modeling these products in 2D or 3D perspectives. Originally, these programs were affordable only to design professionals, but nowadays, powerful CAD software programs are within the price range of just about anyone who owns a computer. In addition, modern CAD software is easier to use than earlier versions.

    CAD allows you to produce accurate drawings even if you consider yourself to have little or no artistic ability. In fact, no drawing skills in the traditional sense are needed at all. Furthermore, CAD enables you to correct mistakes as easily as a word processor enables you to edit words in a document. Even if you discover a mistake after you print a drawing, you can easily correct the mistake and print a new copy. To use CAD, you will need some computer skills, but if you know how to type letters on your computer, you can easily learn how to draw with it.


    You will need a computer, an inkjet or laser printer, a CAD program, an optional scanner, and an optional digital camera.

    Computer Drawing Techniques

    A computer may be used to make patent drawings in the ways described below.

    Tracing. If you have a scanner, you can scan a photograph of an object, import (load) the scanned image into a CAD program, and trace it easily, as shown in Illustration 1.12, a photo of an aircraft. (Although difficult to see in a black-and-white book, the black outlines are the tracing lines.) If you have a digital camera, you can take a photograph of the object and download (transfer) the image directly into your computer through a cable, without having to print and scan the photograph. Once it is in your computer, tracing the image is very easy. Since you use a mouse instead of an ink pen, you don’t even need a steady hand.

    Drawing From Scratch. A CAD program will enable you to construct an accurate, three-dimensional (3D) representation of your invention within the computer. A 3D model is typically made by using and modifying basic geometric building blocks, such as boxes, cylinders, planes, and custom-defined shapes. You may create each part with specific dimensions, or you may simply draw a shape that looks about right. You can easily rotate the finished model to see it from any angle. You can also easily zoom in or out to adjust the viewing distance, which is equivalent to adjusting the degree of foreshortening (in CAD, the term “viewing distance” is used instead of “foreshortening”). Once you are satisfied with the view, you can print it as a line drawing (a drawing of dark lines on a light background). Therefore, you can make professional looking drawings with a computer, even if you consider yourself to be a terrible artist.

    These techniques and tools are explained in greater detail in Chapter 3.

    Using a Camera

    Almost everyone has some degree of familiarity with photography. Obviously, a camera can take an accurate photograph or “drawing” of an object. While photographs may no longer be submitted as patent drawings (except in special circumstances that will be explained in Chapter 4), they can be converted into suitable patent line drawings by tracing them. To do so, you must have a basic understanding of photographic lighting and exposure.


    To take accurate photographs, you will need a digital (preferred) or 35 mm film camera. Your camera should have optical zoom and macro (close-up) capabilities. You will also need a tripod.

    Taking Pictures

    There are mountains of books on photographic techniques, and cameras typically come with booklets on basic techniques, so we will not go into great detail. We will cover a few simple techniques in Chapter 4 that will enable you to take pictures good enough for tracing (and for filing as patent drawings when permitted).

    Tracing Pictures

    A photograph can be converted into a line drawing by putting a piece of paper over it and tracing it with a pencil, or by scanning it into a computer and tracing it with a CAD program.


    As you can see, there are two ways to make patent drawings. If you favor one of them, you may go directly to the chapter that discusses it in detail. Otherwise, a reading of the following chapters will help you select the technique that is right for you. 


4 Reviews
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star

Great purchase.

By Robert S.

I am not a lawyer, but I am an inventor with multiple patents, and other patents in process. This book immediately paid for itself for me.

Posted on 4/15/2021

Complete, if Sloppy

By Michael H.

The only source of complete specs for patent drawings I have found. Organization is a bit scattered and someone should bave proofread this book for grammar, but everything I need is in there SOMEWHERE. Search-able text compensates for the dispersed detail.

Posted on 11/28/2020

Why I am very glad I bought this book.

By Anonymous

I know how to do drawings in 2D and have done it for years. HOWEVER, I had no idea exactly what the patent office requires and without this book would have wasted a great deal of time and effort screwing it up. If you don't know what the patent office wants you need this book.

Keith Bowen

Posted on 6/17/2019

Patent Drawings - where to place things and how to show them per the USPTO

By Richard F.

Well put together. I was most interested in the paper edge requirements and the size and placement of page numbers, how they must be displayed, and figure numbers. I noticed the figure numbers were displayed as abbreviated ans also full spelling. Several things to know if you are not a patent draftsman or lawyer. The book is well worth reading.

Posted on 6/17/2019

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